Allegory of the Cave by Stephen Dunn
He climbed toward the blinding light
and when his eyes adjusted
he looked down and could see
by shadows; everything he had believed
was false. And he was suddenlyin the 20th century, in the sunlight
and violence of history, encumbered
by knowledge. Only a hero
So from the cave’s upper reaches,
removed from harm, he called outthe disturbing news.
What lovely echoes, the prisoners said,
what a fine musical place to live.
on paper scraps, which he floated down.
But in the semi-dark they read his words
It’s about my father’s death, one of them said.
No, said the others, it’s a joke.
of what he’d seen. Wasn’t sunlight a shadow too?
Wasn’t there always a source
confused, a man who had moved
to larger errors, without a prayer.
does authority shackle us
in a shadow world of half-truths
cast before us by unseen fire
is enlightenment after all
merely the selfsame illusions
by different inadequate light
can the sunlit unfettered few
convince us the world offers more
than dark reflections from the pyre
between truth and perception are
distortions imposed by those who
prefer we have ignorant sight
Out From Plato’s Cave by Jonathan
staring, glaring at shadows on the wall,
Some short and some tall but all the same,
With other men and women, ten years or ten
Hundred; what does it matter when batter
Of life is to sit and stare at an otherwise
Bare cave wall with shadows that never fall.
Lo and behold! Someone told me I was free!
No more shackles tore at ankles and arms,
And there could be no harm in standing and
Looking round at where I’d been bound for
So long; where no one belongs and ne’er is
Sung sweet song; now I took careful steps,
With nothing to fret, no net set for trap.
Tis no joke; I was no longer yoked to other
Cave dwellers — brothers and sisters, and
Mothers and fathers — and so I explored,
And nothing bored in any new discovery in
Recovery of freedom I’d never known, seeing
What I’d never been shown: fires burning
On pyres for those who’d lived too long
Where they never belonged; now I could see
What better women and men we could be …
Something new, yet not new, caught my eye,
And I said ‘good-bye’ to cave and so began
Walking toward another light, much brighter,
Stalking the strange creatures who featured
Shadows on the far wall, and I heard an eerie
Call beyond the fiery pyres beckoning me
To respond to an opening that spawned
Brighter light in sight but out of the cave.
Knave I may have been, but how could I help
But crave such bright light, even in fright;
I knew no difference twixt the day and night;
I could only say a prayer and fight my way
To yawning of the cave, toward the dawning
Of new and strange radiance of luminescence,
Calling, but in such power to make me cower.
I reached the opening, stepped outside and
Quickly looked to hide, and no one in whom
To confide; blinding beauty of another world
Into which I’d just been hurled, and so good
As I stood there, bathing in the sun, which
Had only begun to shine on brand new day;
What could I do but stay; I’d found another
Way ~ inside the world, but outside the cave!
Then it struck me to tell my former company,
To pluck up the courage to go back to spread
Such grand news that all is not dead, that we
Might be fed in the land of the living under
Another brighter, mightier light that did more
Than eat corpses and beat shadows on the wall;
And so I turned back with no lack of conviction,
No friction in heart; I’d found the better part!
So did I descended again into the gloom and doom
To rouse my companions from their house of rock;
To led them to higher grounds and better sounds,
But … oh no! They shocked me as they locked
Up their hearts, bound their minds to the sound
Of my voice as if I were a raving lunatic craving
Another easy meal, if I could only peel them away
From the safety of the cave haven; craven fools!
And I could not find the words to unbind their
Souls, and free them from earthen bowl where
Surely they were dying without even trying to
Stand and walk; their talk was but a cheap heap
Of lies, but they didn’t realize the utter size
Of their fool’s pride; they would simply continue
To hide away in bay of dim-lit cave, and I … I
Only wanted to save, to save them from the cave.
Plato’s allegory of the cave ! By Raj Nandy
In his seventh book of the famous ‘Republic’,
Plato narrates his Cave Allegory!
Plight of those prisoners inside the cave,
With their head fixed and limbs all chained!
They could only see the shadows on the front
of the cave wall,
Of various images of moving life forms!
Illuminated by a burning fire from behind,
A silhouette continuous show on the walls they
But when a prisoner breaks loose, to face the
sunlight of enlightenment outside,
He momentarily remains blinded by its light!
He rushes back to tell others about ‘true reality’,
But they get angered hearing about his newly
Preferring their ignorance of the cave, –
Taking those shadowy images for truth, –
As their real life story, which made them feel
Plato’s allegory of the cave is not a spiritual
But about the process of acquiring knowledge
Those ‘prisoners’ in the cave represents society,
The ‘fire’ burning behind, – their imperfect
knowledge and idiocy!
The ‘dazzling sun’ outside the cave as true
enlightenment, – ‘the good’;
For all philosophers seeking ‘true knowledge’ as
they always should!
And those ‘chains’ are the fetters of our mind, –
Our ignorance, prejudices and inhibitions, all
of mental kind!
About which those ‘chained prisoners’ had not
the slightest notion,
And Plato narrates his philosophic views without
Plato’s ‘sun’ represents his ‘ideal forms’, his
concept of ‘ultimate good’,
Which centuries later St Augustine, –
Had interpreted as God divine!
Which the medieval world finally understood !
Look at our society today, being led astray,
By commercialized men and greedy politicians,
With their narrow parochial and vested interests!
Let us also not try to grab all things all at once, –
Which our parents and elders in the past,
And taken years to build, to make things last!
With plethora of ‘tempting loans’ and materialistic
Aping ‘advanced nations’ may only lead to bad
debts one day!
Let us not take those ‘shadowy images’ for truth ;
With resilience of mind, our spiritual bindings,
All seekers of truth and enlightenment since
Have been cursed, imprisoned, killed or despised ;
Yet truth does prevail to last !
For seekers of truth shall forever seek to find,
And dare to show the righteous path , –
to our misguided mankind!